Waikato has announced a well-balanced squad for the 2015 ITM Cup season beginning in August.
(Photo credit: Zimbio via Google Images)
The squad features a good balance of uncapped talent and returning players from Super Rugby.
Bryn Gatland will be the Mooloos back up to Damian McKenzie at first five after coming off a strong season with Hamilton Old Boys in club rugby. Gatland was around the Mooloos squad last season but never made it onto the field.
One notable selection is fullback Shaun Stevenson who was an exciting part of the New Zealand School’s side last season.
Ben Tameifuna will play in what is likely to be his last season with the Mooloos as his departure to France draws closer.
The WRU say that Liam Messam’s availability will be determined by his All Black commitments and Tawera Kerr-Barlow is expected to miss some of the ITM Cup due to international duties.
Harrison Levien is the third string halfback for the Mooloos.
The squad announcement put some rumours around the traps that Ross Filipo would be involved in 2015 to bed.
Joe Webber is expected to miss most of the season due to Sevens commitments, but much spotlight will be on the performances of Declan O’Donnell on the wing partnering with Regan Whare who has played superbly for Hamilton Old Boys this year.
Jacob Skeen also returns to the Mooloos fresh off a stint with the NZ Maori.
The full Waikato ITM Cup squad for 2015:
Ben Tameifuna (Suburbs)
Loni Uhila (Hamilton Marist)
Josh Hohneck (Fraser Tech)
Atu Moli (University) *
Tau Koloamatangi (University) *
Hame Faiva (University)
Michael Mayhew (Hautapu) *
Jacob Skeen (University)
David Morgan (University)
James Tucker (Hamilton Marist) *
Whetu Douglas (University)
Zane Kapeli (Hamilton Marist)
Liam Messam (Hautapu)
Mitch Jacobson (Hautapu) *
Murray Iti (Otorohanga) *
Josh Tyrell (Hamilton Marist)
Adam Burn (Hamilton Old Boys)
Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Hautapu)
Brad Weber (Morrinsville Sports)
Harrison Levien (Hamilton Marist)
Damian McKenzie (University)
Wharenui Hawera (Hamilton Marist)
Bryn Gatland (Hamilton Old Boys) *
Dylan Collier (Otorohanga)
Jordan Payne (Hamilton Marist)
Anton Lienert-Brown (University)
Chauncy Edwardson (University)
Declan O’Donnell (Melville)
Regan Ware (Hamilton Old Boys)
Joe Webber (Hamilton Marist)
Johnathan Malo (Hamilton Marist)
Shaun Stevenson (Hamilton Old Boys) *
Not considered due to injury
Brian Alainu’uese (University)
Luke Katene (Hautapu)
* = denotes uncapped player